John Lucas Tupper


The Subject in Art (No. 1)
A Sketch from Nature

The Subject in Art (No. II)
The Papers of "The M.S. Society," No. I.

Viola and Olivia
The Papers of "The M.S. Society," No. IV. Smoke
Papers of "The M.S. Society," No. V. Rain

John Tupper was born in or around the year 1823 into a family of printers and stationers. His father, George Frederic Tupper, who was trained as a lithographic draftsman, owned his own firm, in which his two older sons, George and Alexander, also worked. Tupper's brother's undertook the first printing of The Germ and, subsequently, its publication (largely, one suspects, to provide their brother with a means of publishing his writings.)

Tupper's "Extracts from the Diary of an Artist," which he published in The Crayon, provides virtually all we know of his early years. He adored Keats and Browning from an early age, and believed that "the painters before Raffaelle's time were better, i.e. more Christian, than Raffaelle himself; and that [Raphael] introduced the heathen element into modern art." Tupper began to study at the British Museum on 8 December 1836, in hopes of gaining admittance into the Royal Academy to study sculpture. On 18 December 1840, he was admitted into the Academy, where he met Hunt, Stephens, Collinson, Woolner, and D. G. Rossetti. After leaving the Academy, he was employed as an anatomical designer at Guy's Hospital, where William Michael Rossetti made his acquaintance.

Supporting himself with his work at the hospital between 1849 and 1863, Tupper attempted a career as a sculptor. He showed eleven portrait medallions at the annual Royal Academy Exhibitions between 1854 and 1868, and received a commission for his most important sculpture, the "Linnaeus," in 1856. In 1863 Tupper left Guy's Hospital to become a drawing teacher at the University of London, and from 1865 to his death, he served as drawing master at Rugby. While at Rugby he wrote The True Story of Mrs Stowe (about Byron), and Hiatus, or the Void in Modern Education under the name "Outis," meaning "no man." In 1871 he published an article on Woolner in the Portfolio.

John Lucas was the brother of George and Alexander Tupper, managers of the firm that printed The Germ. William Michael Rossetti describes him as "a very capable and conscientious man, quite as earnest after truth in form and presentment as any PRB, learned in his department of art, and with a real gift for poetry." [See also Poems of the Late John Lucas Tupper, ed. William Michael Rossetti (London, 1897).] Still, he "remains anonymous at his request" in The Germ, to which George and Alec contributed numbers IV and V, respectively, of "The Papers of 'The M. S. Society."

Like many other members of the Pre-Raphaelite movement, Tupper aspired to create both visual and verbal art, and in the course of his career he published poetry, art criticism, book reviews, and a treatise on art education. The 1855 Crayon contained "The Light of The World," a sonnet on Hunt's painting, which D. G. Rossetti praised. Tupper maintained a close friendship with Hunt until the former's death [see A Pre-Raphaelite Friendship: The Correspondence of William Holman Hunt and John Lucas Tupper, ed. James Coombs (Ann Arbor: UMI, 1986).] Tupper was the only member of the Pre-Raphaelite circle with interests in both art and science.